While no one person can completely prevent identity theft from occurring, there are things we can do to minimize our exposure.
During the search for new employment, job seekers may be at a slightly higher level of risk to identity theft. This fact sheet is designed to help you become aware of potential problem areas so that you can avoid them. Most online resume posting sites have a “Be Safe” section. Read it carefully. If you see any questionable job postings immediately report it to that site. If you are approached by a scam or suspect a scam in progress, also immediately report it to that posting site.
Items that do not belong on a resume:
- Your Social Security number (SSN)
- Date of birth (DOB)
- EIN (taxpayer ID number if you use that as an alternate to the SSN)
- Driver’s license number
- Marital status
- Professional license number
- Gender – it is against the law for them to ask you for this information
- Age – it is unlawful for an employer to ask for this information
- The reason why you left a past employer
- The year you graduated from various schools and the school name. The school name is a personal choice issue.
- Disabilities – unless the job specifies a request to describe any physical limitations, you should not offer this information up front
- Any of the above information can be provided to an interested employer in person upon request. Keep in mind, a resume only opens the door to an interview. Jobs are not offered based on resume or application information.
Answering ads on the Internet or newspaper:
- If they ask you to write your SSN on your resume or cover letter, ask why it is being requested and explain that you are not comfortable in doing that.
- If someone calls you, and during the telephone interview asks for your SSN, do not give it out.
- Tip: if an email address does not contain the domain name of the company, it is likely fraudulent.
- Normally, companies do not do background checks on individuals they have not met. The request for a SSN for that purpose is suspect.
- Money transfer jobs: This scam begins with a company asking you to open a banking or checking account in your name. You are then sent what appear to be cashier’s checks, bank checks or money orders from “customers” to deposit. You may also be told to forward the online code for that account so the company can make withdrawals. The other scam is for you to make withdrawals and send a portion of it to the “hiring company.” You are paid a commission for your time.
- Most often these are companies that claim they are outside of the United States. Avoid these jobs as they almost always are fronts for illegal activities and can result in possible criminal charges against you.
- Courier services: It is best to check out the hiring company with both the Better Business Bureau and with either the state or federal Attorney General’s Office to confirm that they are legitimate. Make sure you see exactly what you will be carrying and that you don’t end up getting arrested for trafficking stolen or illegal goods.
- Avoid companies that ask if you have a bank account that you can use for their activities. A legitimate company will have its own bank account or will be able to open one itself. You should not be using your SSN to open an account for any company other than your own or one in which you act as the CFO.
- Avoid companies that ask you to use your SSN to open a credit card for that company.
It is recommended that you do not fill in the sections asking for your driver’s license number or SSN. Instead, place a note saying “see below.” In the blank section at the bottom of the paper, write “Prefer to provide this information during the interview.” If asked, you can tell them that due to the explosive growth of this crime, you prefer not to include this sensitive information on forms. The reality is that this application may not be safely stored or may be thrown in the trash exposing you to possible identity theft.
When in doubt, you can check out a potential employer in many ways. One quick manner would be to look at the company website and verify its address, phone number and history.
- The Better Business Bureau (www.bbbonline.com ) keeps a log of complaints about companies.
- State Attorneys General also maintain files about companies as does the U.S. Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov )
You can also check out the URL of the company by using Trend Micro’s widget Check URL Safety link on the ITRC website.